1 Corinthians 9:26
I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beats the air:
That was a fine eulogium which was made on Caesar, that he thought there was nothing done while there remained anything to do. Whoever arrives at worldly heroism arrives at it in this way, and there is no other way of obtaining salvation. Behold in Paul a man who accounted all he had done nothing while there remained anything more to do. We ground the necessity of progressive religion —
I. THE GREAT END OF CHRISTIANITY — to transform man into the Divine nature. This being the case, we ought never to cease endeavouring till we are as perfect as our Father which is in heaven is perfect. Moreover, as we shall never in this life carry err virtue to so high a degree as that, it follows that in no period of our life will our duty be finished, consequently we must make continual progress.
II. THE FATAL CONSEQUENCES OF A SUSPENSION OF OUR RELIGIOUS ENDEAVOURS. A man employed in a mechanical art sets about his work and carries it on to a certain degree. He suspends his labour for a while; his work doth not advance indeed, but when he returns he finds his work in the same forwardness in which he left it. Heavenly exercises are not of this kind. Past labour is often lost for want of perseverance and it is a certain maxim in religion that not to proceed is to draw back.
III. THE ADVANCES THEMSELVES IN THE PATH OF HOLINESS. The science of salvation in this respect resembles human sciences. In human sciences a man of great and real learning is humble; he always speaks with caution, and his answers to difficult questions are not unfrequently confessions of his ignorance. On the contrary, a pedant knows everything, and undertakes to elucidate and determine everything. So in the science of salvation, a man of little religion soon flatters himself that he hath done all his duty. A man of lively and vigorous religion finds his own virtues so few, so limited, so obstructed, that he easily comes into a well, grounded judgment that all he hath attained is nothing to what lies before him. Accordingly we find the greatest saints the most eminent for humility (Genesis 18:27; Job 9:15; Psalm 130:3; Philippians 3:12).
IV. THE END WHICH GOD PROPOSED IN PLACING US IN THIS WORLD. This world is a place of exercise, this life is a time of trial, which is given us that we may choose either eternal happiness or endless misery.
Parallel VersesKJV: I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: